Kanoko (鹿の子) Fawn Spots

Name: Kanoko (鹿の子) Fawn Spots

Seasonal Association: None

When to Wear It: All Year

Auspicious: No

History: This motif is especially popular as a shibori motif, although it is possible for it to appear in other media as well. Its name comes from the resemblance to the spots on the back of a baby deer.

Identification: Kanoko can be divided into two broad categories, kanoko that is created using the technique of shibori dyeing, and kanoko that is created using other media.

 

Shibori Kanoko

There are six different types of shibori kanoko, each with its own name, binding technique, and features.  Not every technique features a photo, but I will update as I find examples.

1) Hon Hitta Kanoko (dots within squares)

This pattern consists of squares with sharp edges, with the smallest possible dot spot of color in the middle. The dots are bound on the bias of the cloth, and when they are completed, they will be viewed on the diagonal in a grid pattern. A kimono fully patterned with hon hitta kanoko (called sou hitta) is a highly prized garment. Hon hitta kanoko is the most difficult type of kanoko shibori to create.

chuu-hitta kanoko

chuu-hitta kanoko

2) Chuu Hitta Kanoko (Medium dots within squares)

This pattern resembles hon hitta kanoko, except for a few key differences. The edges of the squares are not as sharp or crisp as in hon hitta kanoko, and the circles in the middle are larger and more irregular than in hon hitta kanoko.

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yokobiki kanoko

 

 

 

3) Yokobiki Kanoko (square ring dots)

This pattern consists of square or rectangular rings that are irregular in size and form.

 

4) Tatebiki Kanoko (linked dots)

Like its name suggests, this pattern consists of small dots, spaced close together and appear like beads on a string. These dots are usually used to create linear designs.

5) Te-hitome Kanoko (half dots)

This pattern consists of oval or almond shaped resisted (no dye) areas and a spot of dye in the middle that only takes up half the space available.

6) Tsukidashi kanoko (spaced dots)

The pattern is a subtle and more subdued than hon hitta kanoko and is more appropriate for older women. It is also a common pattern to find on shibori obiage.

 

Kanoko Created With Other Media

The following are examples of the kanoko motif that are not created using shibori.

This kanoko mimics the look of hon-hitta shibori kanoko.

This kanoko mimics the look of hon-hitta shibori kanoko.  It has been woven into the pattern of this obi.

These kanako dots have been dyed.

These kanako dots have been dyed.

 

 

Sayagata (紗綾形) Linked Buddhist Swastikas

Name: Sayagata (紗綾形) Linked Buddhist Swastikas

Seasonal Association: None

When To Wear It: All Year

Auspicious: yes

History:

The sayagata design is derived from a traditional Buddhist swastika, which is known as a manji (卍 or 万字) in Japanese. The first kanji (卍) depicts a Buddhist manji which has the tines facing in a counterclockwise direction. This is the opposite of the Nazi symbol in which the tines face clockwise.   While manji will always face counterclockwise, because sayagata is made up of interlinking manji, you will see manji facing both directions in this design.  This symbol has been used since the neolithic times and across many cultures. In modern day Japan, it is used on maps as a symbol for a Buddhist temple. The second kanji (万字) means “ten thousand words.”

Identification:

The sayagata is usually used as a background design that is woven into the cloth for solid colored kimono or accessories.  It is especially popular for iromuji kimono or items that use rinzu silk (which also makes it very hard to photograph!). The design consists of interlinking manji, and the manji are always depicted on the diagonal.

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Same Komon (鮫小紋) Shark Skin

Name: Same Komon (鮫小紋) Shark Skin

Seasonal Association: None

When To Wear It: All Year

Auspicious: No

History: This pattern is an especially popular motif for edo komon kimono. It was first developed in the Muromachi period and was favored by samurai. Later, it was adopted by townspeople during the Edo period. Same (鮫)translates as shark and komon (小紋) translates as fine pattern.

Identification:

This pattern consists of a series of small white dots on a colored background. The dots are arranged in overlapping “hills.”

Same komon motif on an edo komon kimono. From a distance, the kimono looks like a solid color.

Same komon motif on an edo komon kimono. From a distance, the kimono looks like a solid color.

Asa No Ha (麻の葉) Hemp Leaf Pattern

Name: Asa No Ha (麻の葉) Hemp Leaf Pattern

Seasonal Association: None

When To Wear It: All Year

Auspicious: Yes

History: There are records of hemp being used in Japan as early as the Jomon era (10,00-300 BC). Some of the most popular uses of hemp today is in the construction of ropes for shrines, temples, and sumo rings. Hemp is also a popular fabric for summer kimono and juban. The motif asa no ha is often used as a background design on kimono made of a wide variety of fabrics (not just hemp). It is often a popular motif on garments for babies to signify the parent’s hopes that their child will grow as strong as a rope made from hemp.

Identification:

Some people see triangles when looking at asa no ha, and others see a six pointed star. Both of these are correct. Asa no ha is also sometimes called mutsuboshi or six pointed star.

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